Our people must learn to do good by meeting the urgent needs of others; then they will not be unproductive.~ Titus 3:14, NLT

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Step in to help families before abuse occurs

A couple weeks ago I read a news article that left me grief stricken and angry. It was a report on the number of children that were killed by abuse and neglect, despite being looked into by Child Protective Services. Today I was so encouraged to see that there is an organization out there trying to prevent such abuse and neglect. I hope by spreading the word, others will know where to turn, and those that can will step up to help out.
Learn more about Safe Families here: http://www.safe-families.org/ 

This is from IndyStar.com

Step in to help families before abuse occurs

7:59 PM, Feb. 05, 2012 |  
 By Krista Davis
A recent Indianapolis Star article (“Could deaths of Indiana children have been prevented?” Jan. 22) confirmed what many of us already know: Government programs alone cannot protect children from abuse and neglect.
In fact, caseworkers at the Department of Child Services are asked to do the impossible: investigate thousands of reports of abuse and neglect, keep tabs on volatile family situations, monitor foster care placements and, perhaps most challenging, know when it’s safe to reunite children with their parents. No wonder so many children are suffering and, in some cases, losing their lives.
What if we could step into a family crisis to prevent abuse and neglect before it even starts? At Safe Families for Children, that’s exactly what we do, and you can help.
Safe Families is a safety net for people who are dealing with stressful circumstances that all too often lead to neglect and abuse. Our trained, rigorously screened volunteers provide a temporary home for children whose parents are experiencing illness, homelessness, job loss, drug addiction and other difficult issues. The children remain with the volunteer family while their parents address the issues that led to the separation. Biological parents maintain full custody and can call or visit their children any time during the placement, which can last from a day to several months.
What makes Safe Families special is the relationships that develop between volunteers and the families they serve, relationships that continue after children have returned home. Our volunteers babysit the kids, take the family to church, bring over groceries and offer many other kinds of help. In a very real way, these volunteers become an important part of the at-risk family’s support system.
Safe Families began in Chicago in 2002 and is now active in 40 cities nationwide. In Indianapolis, the program has arranged nearly 800 hosting opportunities since 2008; we currently average about one a day. In 2011, placements increased by 44 percent from 250 to 361; the number of approved Safe Families volunteers increased by 69 percent from 101 to 171.Our staff of five oversees each placement and works closely with other community agencies to provide supportive services for the family in need.
Sometimes even a brief encounter with Safe Families makes all the difference. Recently, we were asked to place two young boys whose mother was receiving mental health services. Her health problems had begun when she stopped taking her medication in order to safely breastfeed her newborn, and they quickly spiraled out of control. After a brief inpatient stay, her mental status improved considerably and she was reunited with her children. This young mom is back to providing loving care to her children. But who knows what might have happened if Safe Families had not been there to help?
Safe Families accepts referrals from other social service organizations such as The Children’s Bureau, Healthy Families and Connect to Help, as well as churches and individuals. DCS is aware of our services, and we stand ready to partner with the agency. Thousands of children and families in the Indianapolis area could benefit from the care Safe Families volunteer provides. By supporting them now, before abuse and neglect occur, we can help build a brighter future for them and for our community as a whole.
Davis is executive director of Safe Families for Children-Central Indiana.

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